Summary: Reorienting our vision of Jesus Christ as the Sovereign Lord and King of the universe. Christ is completely victorious and our view of Christ determines our actions and faith here on earth.
Once Again The Cosmic Christ
By Craig R. Dumont, Sr.
Historian Will Durant wrote perhaps the most popular multi-volume series on the history of civilization. Volume three is titled Caesar and Christ and he starts with a most remarkable admission for a non-Christian scholar that should make contemporary Christians sit up and take notice. In fact, so powerful are several of Durant’s passages assessing Christianity that it literally made me want to stand up and shout "We gave You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned" (Rev. 11:17).
Let me quote just two passages from his book, the first coming right in the preface:
The study of antiquity is properly accounted worthless except as it may be made living drama, or illuminate our contemporary life. The rise of Rome from a crossroads town to world mastery, its achievement of two centuries of security and peace from the Crimea to Gibraltar and from the Euphrates to Hadrian’s Wall, its spread of classic civilization over the Mediterranean and western European world, its struggle to preserve its ordered realm from a surrounding sea of barbarism, its long, slow crumbling and final catastrophic collapse into darkness and chaos—this is surely the greatest drama ever played by man; unless it be that other drama which began when Caesar and Christ stood face to face in Pilate’s court, and continued until a handful of hunted Christians had grown by time and patience, and through persecution and terror, to be first the allies, then the masters, and at last the heirs, of the greatest empire in history.
Far into the book, way back on page 652, Durant brings us to the conclusion of Caesar and Christ with his chapter on The Triumph of Christianity. He summarizes the triumph shaping up as early as 311 AD when,
Galerius, suffering from a mortal illness, convinced of failure [to rid the empire of Christianity], and implored by his wife to make his peace with the undefeated God of the Christians, promulgated an edict of toleration, recognizing Christianity as a lawful religion and asking the prayers of the Christians in return for "our most gentle clemency."
The Diocletian persecution was the greatest test and triumph of the Church. It weakened Christianity for a time through the natural defection of adherents who had joined it, or grown up, during the half century of unmolested prosperity. But soon the defaulters were doing penance and pleading for readmission to the fold. Accounts of the loyalty of martyrs who had died, or of "confessors" who had suffered, for the faith were circulated from community to community . . . "The blood of martyrs," said Tertullian, "is seed." There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.
I don’t know how you can read testimony like this and be satisfied with the hopeless, doom and despair, scaled down version of the faith we have today.
Harold Berman, writing on the incredible influence Christian belief, thinking and direct action had on the development of law through the centuries, reports that Christian understanding of Scripture, justice, mercy, atonement, love, forgiveness, restitution and restoration transformed the legal systems of the world. Indeed, the theological teachings of Anselm concerning the atonement around 1100 AD shook up the entire western world and launched the greatest paradigm shift in law the world has ever experienced. As Berman and so many other legal scholars have rightly proclaimed, "Anselm’s theology is a theology of law."
Unfortunately, Berman also says the most recent significant event in the development of law took place in the nineteenth century and even more in the twentieth. He observes that,
The significant factor in this regard . . . was the very gradual reduction of traditional religion to the level of a personal, private matter, without public influence on legal development, while other belief systems—new secular religions (ideologies, "isms")—were raised to the level of passionate faiths for which people collectively were willing not only to die but also to live new lives.
Did you pick up on the incredible change in the understanding of the Christian faith that separates Durant’s explanation of historical events and Burman’s observations of recent history?
Durant reports on the 400 year period in which the Faith is vibrant, fiercely tenacious, overflowing with hope, culminating in the clear recognition that "Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won." The world is turned upside down and changed from a chaotic and dark mess to one of regenerated order and light. While no doubt intensely personal and life-giving to every individual who was called by name by God, there was no doubt in the believer’s mind that he or she was serving "an undefeated God" and the Cosmic Christ, the Ruler of Heaven and Earth! Christ was transforming the old heaven and earth and creating a new heaven and earth. The old political orders may be raging against God and His Christ, but The Son ruled with an iron rod.